John Wayne made few great movies, but his mere presence in a picture often prevented lesser scripts from becoming bad movies. His style and his swagger caused us to forget that the film lacked a story — or that we had seen this tale before, only set on a different cattle range or down a different river.
A number do stand out, notably Stagecoach, The Searchers, Fort Apache, Red River and She Wore a Yellow Ribbon. And though he won his only Oscar for the original True Grit, few would count that among his best films. Eminently watchable it was (and remains), but a great movie it is not.
The Coen Brothers remake is something else altogether, a lot funnier than the original — and much better shot. If Roger Deakins doesn’t secure another Oscar nomination for this picture, something is wrong with the Academy.
If you cast someone to play a role which Wayne pioneered on the silver screen, Jeff Bridges is the man for the job. He takes the job and runs with it, though given the nature of his character, rides and stumbles with it might better describe his performance.
That is all I’ll say about the movie for now, save that you should watch it — and on the big screen, indeed, the biggest you can find.